Expect low attendance when schools reopen next week, Ardern says

Shifting back to alert level 3 on April 28 will prompt schools and childcare centres to re-open.

In the wake of Ardern’s announcement, NZEI Te Riu Roa President Liam Rutherford says the union has  asked the Ministry of Education to release the full public health risk assessment that its guidelines to the sector are based on so that educators can be better informed.

“The Ministry has been clear that the guidelines released so far are just a starting point. Through our Accord with the PPTA and the Ministry we are engaging with the Ministry directly as they develop more detailed guidance for how level three will work on the ground. We’ll be seeking answers to the many questions being raised by the sector,” he said.

“Educators’ greatest concern is stopping the spread of Covid-19 and ensuring the health and safety of children, their whānau, and education staff. Children and people working in education who are at a higher risk must be supported to stay home in their bubble.”

“Under level three, the vast majority of children will still be learning from home, so we expect that a large number of teachers and support staff in both ECE and school settings will also be working from home to support that. All education staff should be involved in the decisions about where they’re required to work and should be supported to work where they feel safe.”

Schools will reopen April 29, as the Principals’ Federation warned last month, so that the 400,000 workers in level 3 sectors like retail and construction can return to work without having to leave their children home alone. However, the PM has recommended parents continue to keep their children at home where safe to do so.

“We are asking parents, if you can keep your child at home, you should keep them at home,” she said.

“It would be too much of a burden to ask schools to make decisions about their parent communities. We are not asking them to do that.”

Rutherford added: “The Government also needs to ensure it is continuing to sustainably fund the early childhood sector so that services are able to make decisions based on the health and safety of children and staff, not on their commercial viability.”

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